SALAMANCA — Adam Bennett said his Salamanca boys basketball team needs to defend and rebound every night, but specifically for nights like its season opener on Tuesday.
Salamanca endured an off shooting night as they played Springville, shooting 36 percent from the field and 30 percent from the floor, but found itself in a tight contest through more than three quarters, as neither team led by more than six points until the final three minutes of the game. That’s when the Warriors started to pull away for a 60-50 non-league opening night victory.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we were good on either side of the ball in the first half but I give our kids credit,” said Bennett, whose team trailed 26-23 at halftime. “We made some adjustments at halftime, they started playing their roles and trusting each other. I just thought they were so jacked up and excited for the season to start that we were all over the place and we weren’t playing Salamanca basketball. We got to that in the second half, made a pretty good run and thankfully our defense and rebounding lifted us up.”
Junior big man Jarod White posted team-highs with 17 points and eight rebounds, while classmate guard Isaac Brown added 16 points, seven boards and seven steals. Senior guard Aaron George, Salamanca’s leading scorer and a Big 30 All-Star last year, scored eight points but chipped in eight assists and five steals.
“I told (Aaron) this in front of the team in the locker room,” Bennett said. “The hardest thing to do when you’re a scorer and you’re not scoring, how do you affect the game? He showed me so much tonight.
“He started affecting the game in other ways. Jarod White had 17 points and Aaron probably got him 10 of those 17 points down the stretch. So I thought he did a good job of still positively affecting the game. Look, even shooters have off nights. He didn’t shoot it great, but he did a good job doing the little things.”
Austin Boies led Springville with 18 points, while Alex Elkins had 12 points and Eric Copeland had 11.
“I thought we played well. I thought overall we did good things,” SGI coach Greg Miller said. “We had some costly turnovers (24 total, to Salamanca’s 19). We knocked down shots. We’ve got to get to the bucket more and get to the line more. But overall defensively, we had steals, we’ve just got to capitalize on that.”
Bennett commended the Griffins and Miller for their competitiveness as they turn the page from star Mason Goodridge, who graduated last year on his way to play at Alfred University.
“Boies is a very good player,” Bennett said. “He’s tough to guard and he does a good job of setting up the other guys. They had Mason Goodridge last year and I think for my money, he’s one of the best players in Western New York. When you play alongside a guy like that, he makes you better. And they proved it without him. They had a lot of guys step up, Greg’s got them playing really hard right off the start and so I’m just happy we were able to weather the storm.”
With a talented team and 90 percent of last year’s scoring returning, Bennett said the Warriors tried to schedule a tougher non-league slate this year. That started with the Class B Griffins, followed by SHS’ annual Tip-Off Tournament this weekend.
“They’re not an easy team to play,” Bennett said of Springville. “They’ve got a lot of size, Boies is a hard player to guard, they rebound the ball well and that’s what we want. We’re not going to get where we want to go by playing teams that we think we can just roll the ball out and win. We want a challenge every night and we tried to schedule that way.”
AT SALAMANCA Springville (50)
Copeland 4 0-0 11, Elkins 5 0-0 12, Boies 7 2-4 18, Sullivan 2 0-0 4, Fisher 1 3-4 5. Totals: 19 5-8 50.
J. McKenna 1 0-4 2, I. Brown 4 7-7 16, Pond 2 1-1 5, Hedlund 1 0-0 3, L. Brown 3 0-0 9, George 2 3-4 8, White 8 1-3 17. Totals: 21 12-19 60. Springville 11 26 35 50 Salamanca 12 23 34 60
Three-point goals: Springville 7 (Copeland 3, Elkins 2, Boies 2); Salamanca 6 (I. Brown, Hedlund, L. Brown 3, George). Total fouls: Springville 16, Salamanca 9. Fouled out:
JV: Salamanca 41-29.